Passions run high against "Lord" Lieberman
Posted on Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Herd the livestock inside the gates, raise the drawbridge and man the parapets: There’s a populist rebellion gathering force in Connecticut. Armed with pitchforks and flaming torches, the rebellious peasants of the nation’s wealthiest state are reported to be marching on Sen. Joe Lieberman’s castle. Or perhaps we should call him Lord Lieberman. Judging by their shocked tone, commentator Josh Marshall observes, that’s how most Washington courtier/pundits view Ned Lamont’s Aug. 8 primary challenge to Connecticut’s three-term Democratic senator—as a revolutionary insurrection against a hereditary peer of the realm. Who does Lamont think he is? To New York Times columnist David Brooks, “What’s happening to Lieberman can only be described as a liberal inquisition.” He sees Lieberman as the victim of “a vituperation campaign that only experts in moral manias and mob psychology are really
fit to explain.” Coming from a fellow who’s hardly said boo as prominent
Republicans have called the editors of his own newspaper traitors, urging their imprisonment and execution, this seems a bit melodramatic. Especially since he cites no examples.
Writing in Roll Call, Mort Kondracke depicted the Connecticut contest as
a struggle for “the soul of the Democratic Party—and possibly the future of civility in American politics.” And we all know Kondracke’s great concern for the souls of Democrats. Tragically, an “emergent new left that’s using savage, Internet-based attacks to push moderation out of politics” has targeted poor Holy Joe, as some who find Lieberman more sanctimonious than principled call him.
The New Republic, an allegedly liberal magazine dubbed “The Joe Lieberman Weekly” by his political foes, has coined a term for Internet Web sites trying to help Lamont win. They are “blogofascists,” filled with “intolerance and rage.”
Granted, it’s possible to find most of the major bad words on certain liberal Web sites if you hunt for them. Nothing quite as shocking as the average “Sopranos” episode or the many “conservative” sites that routinely whoop it up over the deaths of Arab children and call for the assassination of Supreme Court justices. But definitely impolite.
Boys, here in the U.S.A., it’s called an election. Appearances notwithstanding, Washington celebrity pols like Lieberman aren’t granted titles. Any time they get too far out of step with their constituents, they’re apt to face a challenge.
On first appearance, Ned Lamont hardly looks like a pitchfork-wielding radical. A partial heir to the J. P. Morgan fortune, he’s made big money in cable TV. On domestic issues, he and Lieberman differ little. (Except for Lieberman’s very odd view that rape victims should be shuttled around in ambulances until they find a hospital whose religious principles don’t forbid dispensing “morning-after” contraceptives.)
Where the two disagree most passionately is over the war in Iraq. Lieberman didn’t just vote for it; many Democratic senators not in trouble with their constituents, such as Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, did that. Lieberman, however, virtually led cheers, in the process making himself the nation’s most prominent Bush Democrat.
Although Lieberman’s now trying to distance himself from George W. Bush’s manifestly incompetent prosecution of the war, as recently as last December he warned, “It is time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be commander-in-chief for three more critical years and that in matters of war we undermine presidential credibility at our nation’s peril.”
To which U. S. Rep. John Murtha replied, “Undermining his credibility? What has [Bush ] said that would give him credibility?”
Everywhere Lieberman goes in Connecticut, a large papier-mâché statue of
Bush planting a kiss on his cheek, as he did following the 2005 State of the Union speech, follows. The nastiest thing Lamont has done is to run TV ads where Lieberman’s face morphs into Bush’s, or Lieberman speaks, but Bush’s voice emerges.
True, some Democrats are still angry with Lieberman for his self-righteous speech chastising Bill Clinton’s sexual sins during the 1998 impeachment follies. OK, so he kicked an old friend while he was down. Apparently, Clinton himself thinks he deserved it, because he’s campaigned for Lieberman in Connecticut. But the Big Dog and Hillary also have indicated that they’ll support the Democratic nominee, even if Lieberman loses and, as promised, runs as a third party of one come November. Polls show Lamont leading. Feelings are running strong. Irving Stolberg, former speaker of the Connecticut House and a longtime Lieberman ally, recently endorsed Lamont in the Hartford Courant. He wrote that Lieberman’s “blind support of the Iraq war, begun illegally and a continuing catastrophe, is monstrous.” Stolberg added that Lieberman’s “defense of an incompetent president, a vice president who fits the dictionary definition of fascism and an extremist administration that has perpetrated torture, illegal eavesdropping and a general shredding of the Constitution is insulting to the people who elected him in the first place.” Savage? Vituperative? Not really. But strong? Definitely strong.
Lily Tomlin said it best. "No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up."